Tuesday, April 6, 2010

American Stories by Nagai Kafu








Picture is of the Crash at Kush


Kafu's book written in the early 1900's, is a sideways look at America from the eyes of a Japanese traveler.  A reader today will probably consider Kafu a politically incorrect observer of the twenty-th century.  There are points in the book that will make you say, "I don't think I would have said that!"

This is modern writing geared forward and armed with the strength that was and still is America. His prose move forward like a locomotive engineered by Casey Jones; out amongst the open prairie, plowing over women, minorities, and a few prairie dogs not really getting the time to know the death count.

He progresses on a narrow gauge track through the scope of the United States. He takes a glimpse through his slanted window to look out amongst the scenery. You can tell that Kafu gets a sensual thrill from the scenery that he moves through. But the people are constructions, flat and cutout, like propped Cowboys at a penny arcade shooting gallery.

Kafu saw that art without sexual tension had no meaning. His prose explore the American cat houses, and treats women as objects that he does not dare get close to. One can see the psychological delusions of the author who was laden with anti social sensibilities. At times the reader feels sad for the writer's lack of ability to connect to a human being.

The book deserves a look but only gets two clucks.

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